I found a hardening in my breast in 2005, and although my GP wasn’t concerned, he sent me to get it checked out. It was a total shock when I found out I had stage 2 breast cancer. I went for the mastectomy, because I thought it gave me a better chance; and I had a reconstruction because I thought it would be less traumatic to wake up with two breasts.

In 2012, I had a recurrence in the same breast. All the hard work they had done with the reconstruction had to be taken out, and I had to have radiotherapy. Sometimes you cannot have reconstruction after radiotherapy, because the skin thickens; but luckily I was fine. There has been a lot of surgery over the past 12 years.

Deciding to have the tattoo done was an empowering act in itself. I worked with Julie from Flaming Gun in Colchester, and she was amazing. It has really boosted my confidence; I just love looking at my tattoo and wish I had done it earlier. The horror of what happened to me in those 12 years was written in the scars I saw every day: me as a survivor, but also the surgery, the chemotherapy and the nipple reconstruction. Every day I had to face the raw truth of what happened to me in the mirror. Now, my body art is something beautiful to look at.

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Vijay Nanda

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